What is massage?
A common natural response to pain in humans is to rub the affected area. Other mammals
have similar reactions when they feel pain or discomfort. The idea that rubbing, kneading,
or otherwise touching can help with pain is the idea behind Therapeutic Massage. With
this treatment, muscles and other soft body tissues are rubbed and manipulated. This
helps to reduce pain, and aids in the healing process.
Massage has also been found to be helpful emotionally. The rubbing action, while helping
to soothe sore muscles, also releases tension in the body. This creates a sense of
calm and reduces stress.
Massage therapy can help with treatment of:
Anxiety and stress reduction
High blood pressure
Carpal tunnel symptoms
Sports or overuse injuries
Side effects of cancer and cancer therapy
Massaging muscles and soft tissue stimulates the nerves. It also increases blood flow
and eases stress in the muscles. Many massage methods have been developed over time.
They often use both fixed and moveable pressure methods, such as:
Swedish massage. This method uses long, smooth strokes. The strokes knead and compress the muscles
with deep circular movements, vibration, and tapping.
Shiatsu. This form of massage started in Japan. It is a lot like acupressure because it places
pressure on certain key body points.
Thai massage. This method incorporates yoga and some traditional Chinese medicine techniques.
Massages are often done in a quiet room with soothing background music. There may
also be aromatherapy from candles or incense. The client lies down on a massage table
or sits in a massage chair.
Research has shown that massage therapy has few risks if used correctly and provided
by a trained massage professional. But deep tissue massage may not be advised for
some groups. These include frail older adults, people with a history of blood clots,
or people with severe rheumatoid arthritis. If you have questions, or a chronic health
condition, check with your healthcare provider before scheduling a massage.
Tell all of your healthcare providers (conventional or complementary) about the health
methods, supplements, and medicines you use. Also let them know if you have any implantable
devices such as a pacemaker, artificial joints, or spinal rods. This will give them
a full picture of your health. It will help ensure safe, effective, and coordinated
Massage therapy certification
Massage therapy is regulated by law. There are specific guidelines in 44 states and
the District of Columbia. The National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage
and Bodywork (NCBTMB) has set up standards of practice.
In 2013, the NCBTMB established board certification and set up a board certification
exam. This is the highest attainable credential for massage therapists today.
The NCBTMB board certification requires that a massage therapist meets or exceeds
Passing score on the board certification exam
Graduation from a NCBTM Assigned School
Pass a criminal background check
Agree to uphold NCBTMB Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics
Verify you are legally practicing in your state or jurisdiction